Anatomy of an App Addiction

I am a firm believer that technology is at its best when it brings people closer together. Tech should not be bound to the personal screens of our smartphones, however big they are. It should be passed and shared with our friends. The most obvious example of this would be music, but I also found this is true for apps, in specific games.

This past week my particular group of friends started playing this rather simplistic game on their iPhones. This rather straightforward game involves guiding a scoop of ice cream on to higher and higher levels while avoiding bees. You collect coins and apples to boost you up. The object of the game is to get the highest score possible. To be honest, I was rather unimpressed with it, at first. No breathtaking graphics or stunning soundtrack.

As I said a rather simple game, but in my group of friends it skyrocketed. During nutrition and lunch (high school student here), we would fairly pass around a friend’s iPhone to take turns. While the one person was playing their turn, the conversation about daily life would go on. This daily affair has been occurring since Monday. They would boast about their high scores, bragging rights basically. We weren’t addicted with the game that we ignored each other or tried to hog the phone in order to sneak in another round. It was just a casual and fun experience among friends.

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First forward to this Saturday. This group of friends that played the game began taking screenshots of our high scores and posting it to Facebook, tagging the members of the group who played. This is when I became interested with the game and downloaded it on my iPod. Over the course of the day, we assaulted each other’s walls with screenshots of high scores. We weren’t prompted to share screenshots like some apps (cough, cough.) We just wanted to brag to one another about being the best at this game.

This app is far from a popular app. It wasn’t a much anticipated sequel. It was just a free app that one of my friends found and shared. This brings forth three points:

  • True, it is unlikely that a small group of people can put this app on the Top Apps chart in iTunes. The app had a golden coin system used to decorate your scoop of ice cream (ridiculous, I know) and the option to buy more coins with actual money. I am positive and have been told by my friends that they will not buy anything for this app. Not only will it not be popular, but the developer will be unlikely to make a lot of money. It only decorated your scoop and did not provide any boosts to get a higher score. (I believe the latter case might make my friends more likely to buy stuff to get a better score, but this is a slim chance.)
  • Despite the points mentioned above, it idealistically affirms the dream of the app developer. There is still a slim possibility for a single developer to make a quality app and get noticed out there. Note that I said quality. Despite the app being simplistic, there are no bugs whatsoever, sluggishness (even on a 4th-generation iPod touch or iPhones 3GS) and the player is not nagged to buy upgrades. This particular app has 4.5 score out of 540 reviews. I believe developers like these are not just in it to make money, but believe in making a good quality product.
  • The last point is the first point I made in this article: technology is a social affair that is best spent in the company of others. My friends had a few laughs about the app involved around bragging rights. It all begins with finding an app and sharing it to see if the other person could do better. It provided a point of conversation that distracted us from the hustle and bustle/stress of a student’s life. The app will eventually get boring and we will likely find a new app and the cycle will continue.

Just my two cents which I wanted to share. Any similar experiences?